Dachshund History

Dachshunds also known as “wiener dogs” or “hot dogs”, is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. Originating in Germany, in fact, the name Dachshund is German for "badger dog", these dogs were bred to hunt badgers. The badger was a nasty tempered predator that had its den underground. What the German foresters were looking for was a courageous dog that had a body slender enough to fit down the burrow, nimble to maneuver into the den, and tenacious to fight the badger to the death. What they came up with was a remarkable dog that defined “form following function” by mix breeding basset hounds and terriers. The German foresters discovered this dog was an excellent hunter of fox, rabbit, and for finding wounded deer. In packs, the Dachshund could also hunt wild boar. The breed turned out to be far more versatile than had been originally planned. Even dachshunds who are abundantly pampered with modern day amenities and normally a friendly pet will suddenly leap off the living room sofa from a sound sleep in the donut position (a favorite position of dachshunds), and, without any hesitation, fiercely attack and capture an unwitting prey such as a common household bug, a moth or even attacking a squeaky toy and destroying the squeaker as quickly as possible.

But the dachshund we of today is a creation of European breeders and includes elements of German, French, and English hounds and terriers. It is thought that a small French pointer and the smooth-haired German pinscher were used to develop the smooth-haired dachshund. The long-haired dachshund is a cross between all the small dog breeds in the spaniel family and the smooth-haired dachshund. The wire-haired dachshund is a cross between the smooth-haired dachshund, the terrier, and the pinscher. Dachshunds have been kept by royal courts all over Europe, including that of Queen Victoria, who was particularly fond of the breed.

The first Dachshunds were brought into the United States in 1887, where they grew in popularity over the next few decades. By 1914, they were among the most popular entries in the Westminster Kennel Club Show. But during World War I, there was much disdain over anything considered German and unfortunately the dachshund was a victim of much hostility. In fact, they were sometimes the victims of stoning, and dachshund owners were often called traitors. As a result, the number of dachshunds in the United States and Britain dwindled. After the war, a few U.S. breeders slowly rebuilt the gene pool by importing German stock and the breed began to increase in popularity again. The advent of World War II did not yield the same effects as World War I, because by then American breeders were well established and dachshunds were very popular.

Every aspect of the dachshund was intentionally breed into the design of the dachshund. The flap-down ears are so that grass seeds, dirt, and other matter do not enter the ear canal. The long, sturdy and curved tail is dual-purposed: to be seen more easily in long grass and, in the case of burrowing dachshunds, to help haul the dog out if it becomes stuck in a burrow. Their short legs allow them to be low to the ground so they can enter in and maneuver through tunnels. The paws are unusually large and paddle-shaped, for efficient digging. The skin is loose so that it will not tear as the dog tunnels down into tight burrows. The dachshund has a deep chest to allow enough lung capacity to keep going when hunting. Their long noses and well developed senses increase the area that absorbs odors. the dachshund is extremely strong in both bone and muscle and it can achieve speeds you would not imagine in a dog with such short legs. The dachshund’s bark lets the human locate the dachshund that has gone down a hole after prey. They are very brave, somewhat stubborn, and have an independent tendency, especially when hunting.

The Dachshund was recognized by the AKC as a part of their Hound group in 1885. Always with the long, muscular body, they come in a variety of appearances. Their size may be standard (16 to 32 lbs) or miniature (under 11 lbs). A Dachshund whose weight falls between 11 and 16 pounds are affectionately known as tweenie. The Dachshund coat may be smooth, longhaired, or wirehaired. Their variety of colors includes red, black and tan, chocolate and tan, gray and tan, or wheaten. Their markings may be dapple, brindle, sable or piebald. Many Dachshunds have brown eyes but, depending on coat color, may also have blue eyes. Their average lifespan is 15 years.

Dachshunds are energetic and courageous and like to enter into the spirit of everything you do, which isn't always the greatest help, especially when you are doing something like tying your shoes. They are playful dogs, but because they are independent, they may insist on you following their rules of play. For example, although they often like to chase balls, they don't necessarily see the need to bring them back to you. Dachshunds are often one-person dogs, meaning they bond very closely with their master.

Due to the elongated body, these Dachshunds have a tendency toward disc disease or disc injuries. Even though a sturdy breed, it’s very important they be handled carefully and not allowed to gain excessive weight or jump off high furniture. Dachshunds generally shed minimally. Their droopy ears require regular cleaning to prevent infections. A good brushing of their coat will keep them tidy although longhaired or wirehaired varieties may require a bit of trimming.

Dachshunds, on the negative side, have a bold nature and can be a bit stubborn in training. Because of their hunting characteristics, they can be diggers and barkers. Socialization and gentle obedience training is a must for this breed. They may not be the easiest breed to housetrain, requiring a definite consistent schedule and a patient owner. Separation anxiety is sometimes seen in these dogs, which can also aggravate house training, but they can be loyal companions to owners who are able to spend quality as well as quantity time with them.

Dachshunds, on the positive side, can make a loyal and playful pet for many years in the right family who will love them for who they are. These fearless and bold dogs make great watchdogs. They also love squeaky toys, covers to burrow under, long walks, and lap time, thus will be most happy included in family outings and activities.